Earlier today Hubs and I completed Hike 6 in the 52 Hike Challenge by hiking from Great Falls National Park to Riverbend Park. The parks are adjacent to each other and can be accessed by car or foot in Great Falls, Virginia. We hiked a total of 3.30 miles on this there and back hike. After this hike, my challenge stats include:
- 6/52 hikes completed (11.5% of the way to my goal)
- 13.76 miles hiked
- 6 unique trails
- 1 solo hike
- 5 companion hikes
Part 1: Hiking the Potomac Heritage Trail in Great Falls National Park
We parked in the northernmost parking lot (past Clay Pond) in Great Falls National Park. We set out by walking towards the water and connected with the Potomac Heritage Trail. The Potomac Heritage Trail skirts the river and connects the two parks. Along the way, I stopped to take a ton of photos! We were there early in the morning (only non-park car in the parking lot) and it was prime feeding time for a variety of the local birds. This section of Great Falls National Park is less popular than the sections closer to the falls.
Part 2: Hiking the Potomac Heritage Trail in Riverbend Park
To cross into Riverbend Park, just follow the Potomac Heritage Trail across a small footbridge near the sign for Riverbend Park. Once in Riverbend Park, you will notice that the trails get more flat and wide. Additionally, we seemed to run into more people in this section than we did in Great Falls. I highly recommend this section of the trail for birders – we rarely took a step without the sight or sound of a bird!
Best Photo Opportunity
Roughly about halfway between the parking lot and the dam, you will find a large hallowed-out tree that is perfect for taking fun pictures. When I asked Hubs to take his picture in it… he just stood with his feet in the opening, lol. Of course, I climbed on it and showed him how it should be done!
Best Place to Sit a Spell
Whenever I see rocks, I feel the overwhelming urge to climb on them. As such, I would recommend the shoreline rock outcropping just before the dam for a “sit a spell” location. The sound of the water running over the dam is super relaxing and it also gives visitors a great spot to watch a large bird nest on the island. Due to the cold temperatures, some of the standing water in the rock crevices was frozen – which was cool to explore.
TIPS FOR HIKING FROM GREAT FALLS TO RIVERBEND PARK
- Dogs are welcome in both parks as long as they are leashed.
- There are flush toilets available in the visitor centers at both parks.
- Take a camera as will be plenty of opportunities to photograph ducks, geese, swans, and other wildlife.
Learn more about the 52 Hike Challenge by visiting the official website.